Recently, the spotlight has started to shine on working conditions within some of the bigger studios. The most recent of these looked at working conditions at BioWare during the creation of Anthem. The latest controversy has now arrived out of a source much closer to home: Microsoft. In an e-mail chain that stretched to over 90 pages in length, as seen by Quartz, many of Microsoft's employees have recounted stories of sexual harassment and discrimination, but while the allegations may have initially been passed over by Microsoft's human resources department, they've now garnered the attention of Microsoft's senior leadership, and they've vowed to do better.
The e-mail chain began on March 20th after a female employee sought advice on how to move up in the company after spending six years in the same position with no hint of advancement. The chain then expanded to include claims from dozens of employees regarding sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. These included one woman who received threats to her life if she didn't perform certain sexual acts, which was ignored by HR and dismissed by management. Another woman alleged she had only been given "tasks like booking conference rooms, taking meeting notes, and making dinner reservations despite being in a technical role".
The thread has now garnered the attention of the company's top HR executive, who has replied in the thread. The company also held an all-hands meeting today, something that had already been scheduled but was now expected to include the e-mails as one of the topics on its agenda. Microsoft's head of human resources, Kathleen Hogan, replied herself in the e-mail thread stating that theses issues had now been raised with the company’s senior leadership team:
I discussed this thread with the [senior leadership team] today. We are appalled and sad to hear about these experiences. It is very painful to hear these stories and to know that anyone is facing such behavior at Microsoft. We must do better. I would like to offer to anyone who has had such demeaning experiences including those who felt were dismissed by management or HR to email me directly. I will personally look into the situation with my team.This isn't the first time the company has faced accusations of sexual harassment, including a lawsuit from 2018 that stated 238 internal complaints of discrimination and harassment had not been handled sufficiently. Only time will tell whether things will change now that the company's practices has been thrown into the spotlight once again.